Only those who have stood in the spotlight know how difficult it is to be in that position. When you’re the cynosure of all eyes, even a tiny slip-up is magnified. Those who really know how to accept a Royal Challenge step up to the plate fearlessly and bask in the spotlight. They go out there and shine — confident that the world is theirs for the taking.
Standup comedians are the perfect example of this breed of challengers. ‘Boldly going where no man has gone before,’ these wizards of wit take on social issues like race and gender — cloaked in humour, but delivered to defy the odds. On occasion, they set themselves up for ridicule so that we stop to question ourselves and our actions, while we laugh at them (and with them).
On many fronts, there’s a lot to learn about life from a stand-up comedian. LIVEINSTYLE.COM presents a checklist:
LAUGH OUT LOUD
Allow humour to invade your life and upset your schedule — it’ll be worth it! Laugh until you cry. To really, really laugh is to let go and be completely free, if only in that moment. They say ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and it is so true that studies suggest laughing out loud can trigger healthy physical changes in the body, strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Of course life is serious, but laughter allows us to get through it all with a bright, shiny outlook and enthusiasm enough to fuel us to the ends of the earth and then some!
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Things can’t always be all ha-ha he-he, so when life deals you a bad hand, accept what is dealt to you. It doesn’t help to frown through your fears or fight the truth when the going gets tough. Like a good stand-up comedian who has come up the hard way, work harder to turn things around and come out stronger on the other side. Prepare harder for a tough test (as a comic does for a more demanding audience) and don’t be afraid to accept failure — for the best comebacks are achieved by those who learn from their losses.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Every successful stand-up comedian knows that the same jokes that have 30-something Indian entrepreneurs in splits don’t work for 50-something lawyers from London. Context and perception have a massive role to play in what people find funny on stage — and the same is true of real life. It is absolutely imperative to know who you are talking to and modify your approach accordingly. Make allowances for language barriers and cultural differences, or even interests and hobbies. Find common ground with your audience (whether in the company of family, friends or co-workers), so they will listen to you and appreciate your point of view.
ENJOY YOURSELF, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE WORKING
Stand-up comedians who take their job too seriously are missing the whole point! A good comic gains confidence from genuinely enjoying what he or she does and, again, the same applies to life. If you go around being nervous and anxious all the time, you won’t enjoy anything — and you won’t succeed at it either. Success is spawned by genuine passion, genuine skill and genuine enjoyment of one’s work. Just stop to enjoy the journey. Eventually, you’ll get to your destination and the trip will have been as much fun as the target you’ve achieved!
Standup comedy is all about being real, being relevant and being relatable — but truly great performers also focus on being bold. While some acts hope to elicit social change by pointing out how funny our foibles can be, they also force us to question our beliefs and discard outdated thoughts. Trail-blazing comedians don’t shy away from controversy; if anything, they court it. Now we’re not suggesting you play the constant voice of dissent, but do go the stand-up way and make a bold statement. ‘Stand up’ for what you believe in and brazenly say your piece. If you are both knowledgeable and confident when debating a controversial subject, people will listen to your opinion even if they don’t always agree with you. There’s something truly impressive about being a person of conviction and, in that sense, bolder the better!